The Feb. 3 shooting occurred on North Salisbury Boulevard at Philadelphia Avenue in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)
SALISBURY, Md.- A Salisbury police officer will not face charges in connection with the fatal shooting of a Delaware fugitive during a February traffic stop, according to a report released by the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office on Tuesday.
Wicomico State's Attorney Matthew Maciarello said the report concludes there is no probable cause to charge Officer 1st Class Milton Rodriguez with a crime, and that Rodriguez' deadly use of force in the killing of 25-year-old James L. Norris, of Wilmington, Del., was justified to stop the clear and present threat that Norris presented.
The incident happened on Monday, Feb. 3, when Wilmington police contacted Maryland authorities for help finding Norris, who was wanted on handgun charges. According to the report, members of the Maryland State Apprehension Team stopped a car Norris was a passenger in on North Salisbury Boulevard at Philadelphia Avenue in Salisbury.
The report shows that Rodriguez, an 18-year-veteran of the Salisbury Police Department and a member of MSAT, approached the passenger side of the car and identified himself as a police officer.
According to the report, Rodriguez asked Norris for his name, at which time Norris put both hands in his jacket pockets. The report said the officer ordered Norris not to put his hands in his pockets but Norris - who it turns out had his hands clenched around two .38-caliber revolvers in both jacket pockets - refused and told Rodriguez and another officer, "You better kill/shoot me first or I'm gonna kill/shoot you."
The report said that is when Rodriguez, who was in fear for his safety, pulled his weapon. More than one shot was fired at the scene and the evidence shows both men fired their weapons, according to the report.
While the report said that it will never be "conclusively established" who fired the fatal shot, the report "assumes" Rodriguez fired the shot that killed Norris.
"The taking of any life is tragic. It is, however - under circumstances - justified; and this is such a case," the report said. "Pfc. Rodriguez's use of deadly force was justified to stop the clear and present threat that James Norris presented."